Family Matters

Meeting My Goal

My daughter, Erin, has always been . . . her own self.  Unique; imaginative; smart and creative.  And totally out-of-the-box from the get-go.  It's been fun - and always a bit of an adventure - to watch her grow up; to watch her unfold.  

When she went off to college, she met her match in Keith.  The two of them just . . . fit together from the start.  And it's been a delight to watch them grow and unfold  . . . together.

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No one would ever use the word "conventional" to describe either Erin or Keith.  They do things their own way!  Always have; always will.

So when it came time to plan their wedding, I knew we'd have fun with it.  As the mother-of-the-bride, my biggest goal was to make sure Erin and Keith had a wedding day that was perfect . . . for them.  That their wedding turned out be just what they wanted -- even if it was a bit out-of-the-box; a day that would make them happy.

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Sometimes, they embraced tradition.  (Tom walked Erin down the aisle, for example.)

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And sometimes, they did not.  (They had a cake as part of their "dessert buffet" -- but no "wedding cake" and no cake cutting ceremony.)

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The wedding was small and intimate, with a venue only blocks from the beach.

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There were games to play and costumes to try on.  A friend performed a poem (poetry-slam style) that she wrote just for Erin and Keith (so powerful and moving that there was not a dry eye among the women at my table).

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There was jazz and some spontaneous dancing and cornhole match-ups and even an appearance by Party Duck (because friends can surprise and delight).

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But mostly, there was love and joy.

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I feel like I met my goal:  The day was lovely and relaxed and fun . . . just the way Erin and Keith wanted it to be!

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(And - just because I'm sure you're all dying to know - I wore the silver sparkle shoes!)  (Both of them.)

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Dispatch from Wedding Central

Just a quick little check-in to let you know that I'm climbing aboard the Wedding Crazy Train today.  

Houseguests.

Last-minute details and decisions.*

A transportation schedule that looks something like a battle strategy.

(You know.)

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But mostly . . . so much love in my heart.

I'll be back next Tuesday to tell you all about it.

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* I still haven't made a final decision about my shoes.  Maybe I'll wear one of each???


A Whirlwind

Last Wednesday, Erin arrived to spend a few days in Michigan.  It was great to see her --- but, WOW!  What a whirlwind!  (Because we had QUITE An Agenda for this visit.)

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We spent some time at the beach (specifically . . . Oval Beach . . . one of the most beautiful stretches of Lake Michigan shoreline in southern Michigan).  We were there, officially, to scope out wedding photography locations.  But the day was beautiful - warm and sunny - so we took some time to play.  (The water was icy -- far too cold to wade in, but the sand was nice and warm.)

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We accomplished MUCH in the way of wedding planning, meeting at the venue to decide details, menu, photography, and flowers.  (Here's where the ceremony will take place.)

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And Erin said "yes to the dress." (But not one of these "lace monstrosities."  Erin has never "done lace," and nothing about that changed when it came time for her to choose a dress.)

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Both Erin and I needed to fortify ourselves frequently -- as the "wedding industry" is pretty disgusting -- and SO over the top.  (Just sayin.)

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We also did a lot of non-wedding shopping so Erin will have a good working-wardrobe for her summer internship at . . . 

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(She'll be doing technical writing and software documentation for LinkedIn in California beginning next week.)

There was still plenty of time for relaxing and eating and drinking; watching hockey with Tom; spending time with Poppy.  It was a great couple of days -- very productive and kind of exhausting, but fun.

Before we knew it . . . 

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she was gone.  (With a big suitcase that arrived Empty and departed Full Of Stuff.)

Definitely a whirlwind -- but the kind of whirlwind I welcome any time.

 

 


On Celebrating in New Ways

I often wonder when I got "bit" by the gardening bug.  It might be just be in my blood -- because for generations and generations, my family (on my dad's side) were farmers.  (My dad was raised on an Illinois farm.)  

I like to think, though, that it happened when I was a very little girl, sitting next to my mom at the strip of flower garden planted along the side of our house.  She would name the plants for me . . . moss roses, four o'clocks, snap dragons . . . and show me magical things.  How to collect seeds from the moss roses and four o'clocks.  How to make the snap dragons . . . snap open their mouths.

I'm pretty sure it was there . . . alongside my mom . . . that I discovered the magic of flowers.  (And combined with my agricultural heritage, well . . . gardening seems kind of inevitable, doesn't it?)

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My mom and I spent many a Mother's Day over the years . . . planting.  Or shopping for plants.  Or planning what to plant.  Mother's Day and time in the garden with my mom . . . it's just the way it always was.

So this Mother's Day, my first without my mom, I decided to create a special garden in celebration of her.

It's right there . . . at the very front of the garden bed next to my pergola.  

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We had to have one of the pines removed last fall, so there was new space in the front of the bed.  Tom dug it all out for me on Saturday and prepared it for my planting.

Yesterday, I planted my mom's favorite flowers.  Dahlias.  Alstroemeria.  Snap Dragons.  And, come fall, I'll plant some tulip bulbs there.  (Because my mom loved her tulips!)  Many of the hostas in this garden bed came from my mom's garden over the years.

The location is perfect -- because I can see my new Mom-garden from my kitchen window or from the patio.  And it's right next to the pergola.  I used to sit on the pergola swing and talk to her on the phone nearly every day during the warm months.  She loved to swing.

It doesn't look like much today (you know how new gardens are. . . ), but it will grow and bloom and be a wonderful celebration of my mom all season long.

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The little red bird and the fairy house came from my mom's own garden, but I purchased the memorial stone especially for this space.

Planning - and planting - this garden helped me through a tough day.  I still got to celebrate and garden with my mom -- just in a new way.

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My sister, who loves to bake, celebrated Mother's Day by baking up some of our mom's special recipes -- using Mom's recipe box and baking pans.

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My mom's rhubarb pie . . . as baked by my sister.  New ways to celebrate, indeed!

 

 


A Knitting Story for Mother's Day

My mom was a knitter.

But she was a rather reluctant and not-very-confident knitter.  Mostly because she was afraid of making mistakes and wasn't sure how to fix them -- and she had no one around to show her how.

Still, she persisted.  She knit my sister and I little red cardigans when we were little girls.  (I still have mine; cables down the front.)  She also knit us little hats that tied under our chins.  And she was the Queen of the Ripple Afghan.

And . . . she taught me to knit.

As I became a better knitter - and especially as I became adept at fixing knitting goofs - my mom got a little braver with her needles.  She mastered socks and mittens, all the while keeping us supplied with a never-ending stock of dish cloths.

But what she really wanted to knit?  Baby afghans!

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About ten years ago - back when my kids were still in high school - my mom decided to knit baby afghans for her future great grandchildren.  

She wanted to be ready, you see.  She had three grandchildren - and she wanted to be able to give each of them a handknit baby afghan whenever - and if ever - they had a child of their own.

First, she knit the yellow blanket.  For her oldest granddaughter -- my sister's daughter.

Then, she knit the variegated blanket.  For Erin.

And, finally, she knit the little aqua blanket.  For Brian.

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Then, she packed them away.  She just wanted to be ready for . . . whenever the time came.

Now, I have my mom's afghans.  Packed away safely and ready to distribute . . . when (and if ever) the time comes.

It's really comforting for me to know . . . that even though my mom will never be able to hold those future great grandchildren in her arms, those future great grandchildren will still be wrapped in her love.

(The power of knitting.)

(The power of Moms.)

Happy Mother's Day!


A Bit of Pampering

I have returned from my visit to Pittsburgh.

This time, my trip didn't include any sightseeing.  No trips to gardens.  No pilgrimages to special restaurants or brew pubs.  No shows.  Nothing fancy.

Just . . . a bit of pampering!

Erin, as you may recall from earlier posts, is in the Technical Writing graduate program at Carnegie Mellon University.  This program is intense, highly competitive, and quite grueling.  Erin, who works really hard and has Very High Standards for herself, really needed a good rest and some restorative time during her spring break.

Mom to the rescue!

My strategy was to just . . . keep things low-key.

We did some shopping.  (Baby needs a new interview suit. . . )  (And a new pair of shoes, too.)

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We enjoyed an indulgent spa day.  (Massages and facials, all around!)

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We ate out a few times -- and I also cooked a Mom-dinner in Erin's kitchen.

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We had a great time playing with Erin and Keith's silly kitty, Dash. 

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There was a whole lot of kicking back and just relaxing.  I even pampered myself -- with some wine and stitching (both knitting and Alabama Chanin) -- back in my hotel room every night.  (Gotta love my hotel wine glass!)

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And . . . a special bonus!  While Erin spent some much-deserved sleeping-in time, I met someone very special for a coffee date!

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Kat (yeah . . . THAT Kat) and I spent hours and hours chatting and catching up and even getting a bit riled up together at a Starbucks somewhat-near downtown Pittsburgh.  

Time flew!

I can attest that her incredible daily stitching project is even MORE awesome up-close-and-personal than it is on Instagram (and it's pretty dang awesome on Instagram).  I think Kat knit a few stitches while we were together, but my bag-of-sock just sat there on the table for the entirety of our visit.

As always, it's wonderful to meet a blog-friend in real life . . .

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My time in Pittsburgh was perfect.  Restful and relaxing -- with plenty of pampering.

 

 

 


February. It's the New April.

I can't even . . . with this weekend.

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Record-breaking warmth.

Sunshine.

Almost flip-flop weather.

Rather unnerving . . . to be out in the garden.  

In February.

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Totally unexpected . . . to be driving around with the sunroof open.

In February.

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So surprised . . . to be throwing together impromptu snacks-on-the-patio.

In February.

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And yet . . . here we were.

February.

(It's the new April.)

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We interrupt this blog post to bring your this special NEWS FLASH!!!

These two . . . 

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(today celebrating 7 years of "coupledom") announced this . . . 

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It's Breaking News, people:  Erin and Keith are engaged!  

(Isn't that a fun way to start the week.)